Toymaker Television

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RoadTrip Day 13: Miles and Miles and Miles…

So the trip home is like….18-20 hours. This means there are a few options, either we split the driving half-half, or we go hardcore today and easy tomorrow. DELAYED GRATIFICATION!

So we did the latter. I’m currently in the Best Western in Topeka and we drove 13 hours. 7:30 - 9:00 essentially. According to the map, with all of our breaks, we only actually covered 11 hours worth. BAH!

It looks like tomorrow, we have anywhere from 7-8 hours worth of driving *falls over*


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RoadTrip Day 12: More ABQ!

Today was fun :) We woke up in Albuquerque after a night of burgers at The Cube, and Whisker and I played around with music, him on his acoustic, and me on Kumi’s new mandolin - a very fun instrument. We ended up with an instrumental track we’ll be including in our album so yay!

Bugged Kumi to go to sushi which we devoured. Really quite good sushi in ABQ, even with green chile on it. We then went to get some green chiles and bought a 1/4 of a bushel for like…8 bucks. It was amazing. And there are a crapton lol. They offered to roast it, but I kinda want to do it for posterity’s sake.

Let’s see….then we went back, recorded the track we had been playing around on, and when that was done, totally made Kumi watch Escanaba in da Moonlight. Truly one of the strangest movies I know, yet strangely educational about the Michigander.

We then went to eat some tasty foods at El Patron, and I had the Baja Fish Tacos which were super tasty, yay for chipotle aioli sauce! Whisker got the blue corn enchiladas with green chiles - spicyyy…We also met Kumi’s sister which was awesome :D.

Once getting back, I totally went fishing Wii style with Kumi. Whisker read a book, and eventually fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean. Meanwhile, I’m busy reeling in 4 foot fish *rah rah rah* :) I love fishing, especially fishing in games lol.

Sadly tomorrow we have to leave, so. :(


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RoadTrip Day 11: 59 in a 55…punks.

So, this morning we got up super early, sadly left John’s wonderful paradise, and made our way out onto 60E. I think 60 E is a more beautiful unveiling of the landscape than 60W, so I definitely took advantage of the views. But on our way through the little towns, and back into the middle of nowhere, I passed a cop car going, apparently, 59 in a 55, or so he says as his lights flash in my rear view mirror.

This is literally the middle of nowhere, and I was the only car around for hours. So he tells me why he’s stopped me. And I’m sure he’s surprised because as he sticks his head into the car, we’re playing big band swing music via CD.

"What can I do for you officer?"
“You were going 59 in a 55”
*shock* “I was?!” (actually I didn’t have a clue it was a 55 zone, I was pretty sure it was a 65 zone)
“I’ll write you up a warning this time, just slow it down.”
“Yes sir…”
“Can I get your license and registration?”
“Sure” *pulls out all that stuff*
“Can you step out of the car while I process this?”
“Uh sure…” (why do they have you step out of the car?) So I get out and stand by him watching him write this damn warning down.
“So where’re you headed?”
“Albuquerque, NM”
“Oh wow, that’s far! What’re you doing there?”
“We’re on a roadtrip from Minnesota” *listed out the different places we had been*
“So what’re you doing on a roadtrip?”
“Ah okay, and what do you do?” (I’m thinking he’s asking too many questions but whatever)
“I’m a nurse.” (Yeah jackass, you pulled over a nurse)
“Oh cool.” (Yeah jackass, you still pulled over a nurse)
“And who else is in the vehicle?”
“My boyfriend and a friend.” (does it matter?)
“Oh okay, and what does your friend do?”
“She refurbishes computers. She essentially works at a nonprofit that helps disabled individuals with becoming more independent.” (Totally true, and you jackass, you stopped a car that had good citizens in it)
“Oh neat.” He totally gets quieter at this point cuz you know, there’re other nefarious folks on the road to pick on!
“So this is a vacation huh?”
“Yep, first one in a while” (I had to ham this one up since we had one in May, didn’t want him thinking better of himself)
“And I’ve never even been pulled over in my entire life before!”
“No? Never?”
“Nope, never. Feel free to you know, skip the Minnesota plates!”
“Well I gotta pull someone over. And at least it’s just a warning and not in Phoenix, cuz it’s hot there!” (What is this, a silver lining in the pull-over cloud?)
He starts squinting and furrowing his brow at the license plate.
“Is this your car?”
“Yeah, it’s a leased car, I just got it a month or so ago.”
“Oh, and are these plates your’s?” (I’m pretty sure he was contemplating they were stolen)
“Yes….I just got those a couple of weeks ago.”
“Oh. Are they plates from the last owner of the vehicle?”
“Nope, they’re my plates for this car. I just got them from the dealership.”
“So you got a new car for the roadtrip?”
“No…I got a new car cuz it was time to switch out my lease.”
“Oh. Oh there it goes.”
“Sorry, the information from Minnesota comes up differently.”
“No problem” (jackass!)
“Alright, here you go, here’s your registration and license.”
“Have a good day”
“Thanks, you too.”


We end up at VLA where there is a serious grasshopper problem. Like…MILLIONS of the creatures. We’ll show you guys footage, it’s a little scary. But do you think the gift shop was open? NOPE! Closed till Thursday for inventory! wtf. I’m pretty sure I heard voices there so I knocked. They hushed up. Double punks!


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RoadTrip Day 10: BBQ and Smoked Chicken

RoadTrip Day 10 was Monday! Today was got up, hemmed and hawed as we do on vacation but decided lunch was going to be BBQ at Waldo’s BBQ. Ribs, bbq pork, they do have a mean sauce! We also went next door to the tourist trap, to which I was trapped. The others left me inside alone, so I finally left begrudgingly :p. After going there we headed to Zia Records, first to their Clearance Center. All CDs were 2 dollars and all vinyls were 25 - 50cents. Whaaaat!? It was awesome.

After Zia Records - Clearance Center, we went to their main location which was mondo huge and found some Duck Sauce NRG record….thing… lol. Checked their turn tables as we had been at previous locations and couldn’t find anything of note.

So after doing all of that, we head back to John’s where we start the process of smoking the chickens, lounging by the pool, and in general absolutely nothing. It was magnificent!

The chicken was the most tender chicken I’ve ever had, so you know I’m definitely getting a smoker and practicing with it!


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RoadTrip Day 9: And back!

We get back up this morning and it’s back to John’s we go! After getting on the 10E, one half of the vacation is over! The drive through the Mojave was punctuated by a stop at Daniel’s really good fresh jerky which was a surprisingly awesome stop!

Not only did they have jerky, but they had some really funky flavors of soda, candy, nuts, fudge. It was like a mini candy factory. Whisker bought some lime soda, pumpkin pie soda, and chocolate bacon soda lol. We kept going and stopped by Revolution Records in Tempe AZ. Whisker was looking for some records and cds as always. I thumbed pretty quickly through some of the other records and found this one with amazing art on it. It looked pretty indie but I liked the art enough that I thought I should at least ask the cashier if we could put it on the record player to listen and see if I liked it.

Bam. Funky harmonics, trumpet, some indie-ish sounds? Yep! Got it!! My first record!

The latest episode of Cooking with JohnS_AZ is his epic green chile burgers, potato salad, and fruit salad. Guys. It’s going to be unbearably difficult to leave here. UNBEARABLY!!!

Looks like a storm cloud’s moving in, should be interesting to see if we get dust storms, or perhaps some rain for the desert. Either way, John spent the morning cleaning the pool so we are TOTALLY going to swim!!


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RoadTrip Day 8: A quick trip to CA!

7 AM, we’re off to my friend Benson’s wedding! The drive through the Mojave is as desert-like as you would imagine, and temperatures went well above 100 during the drive. We arrived there around lunchtime and my good friend from college, Jenn, met us at Casa Del Rey.

Whisker also found out that Joe and Keely were there and so he ended up running around LA with them to visit the Grands. Jenn, in the mean time, agreed to be my +1 for the wedding and we ended up having a BLAST.

It was great to see Benson, pretty much my oldest friend that I still keep in contact with and someone who I used to spend many an evening chatting about life with. And it’s really neat to be able to be witness to them finding their partner in crime :). It made it nicer still that I was catching up with another close friend from college, Jenn, and totally partying like old times.

We still got it!


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RoadTrip Day 7: Running around Mesa

I never ended up updating what happened when Mark@Microchip came over. He’s a super nice guy and we ended up having an amazing Hungarian goulash dinner with him. Chatted about Masters and PICs vs other microcontrollers, and hung out in general.

The next morning, we got up and went to Apache Reclamation, a surplus electronics store. As in most other electronics surplus, it’s organized chaos and grime. The front section is air conditioned with an assortment of items, and in the back, a giant warehouse full of shelves stacked with motors, relays, switches, etc. So of course we all run around. Mark and Whisker both ogle different pieces that they may or may not be able to bring home :p.

We then went to Chuck Box for some amazing hamburgers. The grill is original to when they first started and it’s a wood fired grill as well. So you have one person who gets the orders, and depending on the order, puts a different colored sword toothpick, or breaks it, and sticks it in the bun so the cook knows what’s next. We all got a 1/3 lb burger with cheese and green chiles. Yum! You can really taste the flavor of the grill on the burgers.

Mark had to leave after that but we kept going, first to a local bookstore - Bookman’s. Except it’s like ginormous. It’s easily the same size as a Barnes and Noble and all of the books and records there are used! There were also video games…like…SNES…NES…Atari…:D We got a few.

After we went there, we went to like….my SUPER FAVORITE PART. The asian food store!!!! It’s been such a long time since I’ve gone to such a big one, but I needed to get things to make dumplings for everyone at night. It was amazing and a lot of fun to show everyone around. A lot of the veggies I recognize from what my mom cooks are completely foreign to others heh.

After shopping there, attached was an Asian bakery and Boba place. Talk about a blast to the past. I bought some pastries and got a basil seed and grass jelly drink. NOMS!

Once we got back, I taught everyone how to make Chinese dumplings, the way I’ve been taught, and shrimp, and a little cucumber salad. Tastyyyy :D


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RoadTrip Day 6: Relaxation

Oh man. John’s place is like heaven. There’s a pool, there’s amazing food, and a patio that is worth its weight in gold. We woke up this morning, and lounged around with coffee, ice tea, more coffee…

We got into the pool, enjoyed the heck out of it, and dried off on the patio. Lunch was amazing homemade green chili chicken soft tacos *om nom nom*. “Cooking with JohnS_AZ” as a youtube thing needs to happen!

We also prepped tonight’s dinner which is homemade Hungarian goulash over homemade mashed potatoes *drooool*

I love it here. :D

Also, Mark@Microchip’s enroute to meet us! Yay!


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RoadTrip Day 5: ABQ to @JohnS_AZ

Yeah! Today we were going to get to see the VLA and JohnS_AZ! After packing up, we end up at Satellite Cafe (I think) to get their Fire and Ice. It was apparently heavenly - tasted like a graham cracker in coffee with whip cream. It was pretty awesome.

We took 25 down to Socorro, made a right onto 60 and drove some of the most beautiful country in this area. Not only does it take you past a whole bunch of canyons and amazing walls of rock, but in the middle of the area is the smoothest looking hills you’ll see near anywhere in the country. Which is slightly odd, but no complaints here. The last time we came, the fields were completely white. This time, after some rain, it was green in an Ireland way. Absolutely gorgeous.

But right, the VLA. It was awesome. All of the dishes were together in the center near the headquarters, so I got some great shots. I’ll update the posts with them in a few days. It really was very amazing. They have this main headquarter office that you can walk by, and you know, there are big windows there, so I look in. Kept looking in through the window and woops, there was someone RIGHT on the other side lol….I guess someone /was/ working :p.

So as we travel down this beautiful stretch of road, we realize that Pie Town is coming up. You know there’s pie in Pie Town. The first time we stopped was at Pie-O-Neer, but apparently she only opens Thursday-Sunday 11-4 during the summer months. So we went to the next location called the Good Pie Cafe.

Damn good burgers. And awesome apple with green chili pie. And it was nice to see that the waitress knew everyone and everyone knew everyone. Those are the diners we love to stop at.

After driving some amazing roads for a few more hours (and I kinda stopped at a bunch of the pulloffs for Salt River Canyon), we are here at JohnS_AZ’s! Best. Place. EVER. We have video of John making some EPIC omelettes for us (breakfast for dinner). Mad skills. Mad skills.


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RoadTrip Day 4: Music and Coffee

We’re still in ABQ today and it was a run around the town day! We started the morning with the Electric Kodama Band making some awesome music. Then Whisker, the coffee fiend, decided coffee was in the stars so we went to a place called Cheese and Coffee to see their options. Unfortunately, the only coffee option was “Black Coffee”….

Apparently the coffee wasn’t anything to write home about. As we got up to pay them, a couple sitting there asked “Oh you’re not going to get anything to eat?” “Nope! We’re just here for the coffee”. I’m thinking they were the owners…oops!

Well from there we went to a used bookstore. It’s the first time I’ve been in a used bookstore that wasn’t attached to a library. There are a LOT of romance novels. Like a LOT. But there was an amazing assortment of Brian Jacques (one of my fav authors) and other classics. So you know…I came out of there with like….10 books. Best part was that for every 2 dollars you spend, you get a free book from a shelf right next to the door. I totally stood there cuz I had 16 free books I could get. Whisker went outside so pressure me into leaving lol. Most of them were romance novels anyway.

After that we went to get food - green chili cheeseburgers. Holy buckets of amazingsauce!? It was delicious. This was also the moment where I found out that Robin Williams had died…what in the world?!

So after lunch, we went to a Vinyl/CD/Tape store and totally ran around looking for cds. I am not ashamed to say I got Norah Jones, Evanescence and Enya cds. Don’t judge me! lol. Whisker got some vinyls, and we saw that they were supposed to have kodama shirts, which would have been perfect for the Electric Kodama Band! But alas, they weren’t in the racks.

So after that, we went back to Kumi’s and started playing music again. We went into crazy lyric mode and I think ended on a Spanish soap opera mariachi round. :D


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